Cam Newton off the board by No. 3?

A couple weeks ago, most Buffalo Bills fans didn't consider Auburn quarterback Cam Newton a legitimate possibility for the third overall pick in April's draft.

Now a respected NFL draft analyst has expressed shock at the thought of Newton still being on the board when the Bills are on the clock.

Gil Brandt is a former Dallas Cowboys executive who dissects draft prospects for NFL.com. Brandt told Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Jimmy Burch the Carolina Panthers should name Newton their No. 1 selection.

"It would shock me ... if he's not the first player picked," Brandt said. "If I was drafting and I had Carolina's pick, I'd feel really good about who I was getting as far as ability.

"I just hope he realizes how hard he needs to work. You can have all the ability in the world but if you don't work like Drew Brees, Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers, you're only going to be semi-successful."

National writers and analysts have noted Bills general manager Buddy Nix has an affinity for Newton. That growing sentiment plus Newton's impressive public workout earlier this month sent him soaring up many mock draft boards and ahead of Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert as the top player at his position.

ESPN draft overlord Mel Kiper's latest mock draft has Newton slotted to the Bills.

Newton announced Monday night he would participate fully at this week's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Some quarterback prospects prefer not to throw at the combine.

"I don't have nothing to hide, and I'm a competitor," Newton said. "I'm going to go out here and do what I've been working on this whole time and preparing for this moment right here."